Local groups, organizations, and agencies can now apply for grants to fund services relating to the opioid crisis, including education, prevention, treatment, and recovery, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Monday.
The county will award a total of $25 million in grants after the four-week application process. The chunk of funding comes from lawsuit settlements against big pharmaceutical companies that manufactured and distributed opioids amid the growing epidemic on Long Island and nationwide.
“After years of incredible progress and work to stem the tide on this epidemic, the pandemic created unprecedented circumstances of fear, isolation, and anxiety that led to an increase in fatal overdoses,” Bellone said. “While no amount of money can bring back the lives lost to this devastation, thanks to the County’s landmark lawsuits, we now have new funding to assist our communities and beat back this epidemic that has plagued our region for far too long.”
Though the county has $25 million of the opioid settlement money to use in the upcoming budget, officials expect the settlements to total about $180 million to use across the next 18 years.
Upon reaching the settlements, Bellone convened the Suffolk County Opioid Task Force to engage with community leaders and find the best way to allocate the money to curb opioid addiction in Suffolk. The committee recommended a grant process, which the county has now adopted.
The task force also recommended using the funds for integrated substance abuse and mental health treatment and prioritizing underserved areas, including the East End and communities of color. The task force report will guide selection of grant awardees. A panel of county officials, a victim advocate, and substance abuse disorder experts from the health department will review the applications and choose grant recipients.